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When you go to a music festival today, you can expect that things are relatively organized and structured. That wasn't always the case in previous years, which comes through loud and clear in a new Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibit, “Woodstock at 50.”
Open since May 1, the installation illuminates the 1969 music festival on a dairy farm in upstate New York dubbed "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music." The chill, clothing-optional concert drew 400,000 peaceful young fans, who grooved to artists such as Janis Joplin, The Who, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Santana, and the Grateful Dead while embracing free love, free-flowing weed and good vibes.
Image © John Marshall Photography LLC
The Rock Hall's look at the Woodstock phenomenon leans heavily on the original 1969 version. There's the guitar strap Jimi Hendrix used during his legendary, psychedelic-drenched performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner"; the mandolin from the late Levon Helm of the Band; and a paint-splattered, fashion-forward jacket from John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful.
The exhibit also has rare, exclusive photos from photographer Jim Marshall, who had an up-close view at the festival to document its sights and sounds. And, in a nod to the fact that the original Woodstock wasn't quite as laissez-faire as it seemed, the exhibit even has original press releases, photos and documentation outlining promoter Michael Lang's vision.
Over the years, promoters have thrown multiple Woodstock anniversary events.
Some of these (such as a low-key 1989 commemorative concert on the actual Woodstock grounds) preserved the original's free-spirited atmosphere.
Others events were far more chaotic — most notably Woodstock '94, which turned into a giant mudfest thanks to inclement weather. Bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Green Day embraced the muck and turned their sets into gleeful, swampy communal celebrations. The Rock Hall's exhibit nods to this raucous rock by displaying the mud-caked shoes and sharp red tie Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong sported that day, as his band's fans threw clumps of dirt at the stage and each other during the group's high-energy set.
“Woodstock at 50,” which is located in the main exhibit hall of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is included with the price of admission. The exhibit runs through Fall 2019.
Keith Moon — Hall of Fame drummer for The Who and a notorious hotel partier — once used explosives to blow up a hotel toilet, then drove a Lincoln into the swimming pool on his way to a $24,000 damage bill.
We trust you rock stars to be a tad more discrete when crashing after a concert or an afternoon tour through the Rock Hall.
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Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard Cleveland, OH, 44114
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